As leaders, it is impossible to overstate the value of reflecting on where we’ve been and what we’ve learned. So often we move through our days, and although we learn as we go, we do not stop long enough to consider what we’ve learned and how we can apply those lessons to what comes next. It is our responsibility as leaders to impart our knowledge to those we lead and it is impossible to do that without reflecting on those lessons learned.
As I consider this concept of leadership reflection and what we can learn from experience, I am struck by a couple of things.
First, looking back and reflecting can provide valuable insights. We can learn from our positive and from our challenging leadership experiences rather than simply moving through them. Second, when we reflect, we are often able to see strong themes around leadership traits we have developed or leveraged such as courage, authenticity, boldness, contribution and wisdom.
Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.” Each of us as leaders is an incredible storehouse of wisdom if we only pause long enough to mine it. We need to realize that while wisdom comes from experience, wisdom ultimately resides within us – all of us – if we merely take the time to tap into it. There is no app for self-reflection, so we have to do it ourselves. As a leader, an implicit part of your job description is to step back and take the time to engage in reflection regularly.
When you leave a meeting, finish a project or complete a cycle in your business, ask yourself, “What did I learn?” Take a moment to reflect on what you can take forward from the experience you just had and what qualities or traits you developed or relied upon. These nuggets of learning will add to your storehouse of wisdom and will help you lead the people on your team with more confidence.
Remember, as a leader, you are already a repository for the wisdom accumulated through your experiences to date. I encourage you to step back from time to time and reflect on what you know, what you have learned from your experiences and the wisdom you can share with those you lead.